October 12, 2005

NOTE TO THE EDITOR: Following is the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) statement on the AXA Class Action Lawsuit settlement dealing with Armenian Genocide era insurance claims.

The Armenian National Committee of America today welcomed the settlement of a class action lawsuit against AXA Insurance company, allowing descendents of Armenian Genocide era insurance policy holders to seek the assets denied to them for far too long. The historic case is the second of its kind, following the New York Life Insurance class action case settled in February, 2004. In both cases, the heirs of genocide-era claim holders were represented by Yeghiayan and Associates, Geragos and Geragos, and Kabateck Brown Kellner.

To place this settlement in its proper context, it is important to note that, while the heirs and grandchildren of Genocide-era policy holders will now receive some small portion of those funds, we should remember that those monies were not available when these orphans of the Genocide needed them the most. Instead, they were collecting interest in AXA coffers and remained there for some 90 years until this corrective action was taken.

The European affiliates of the ANCA played an important role in educating the European citizenry in general and the Armenian community in particular regarding the AXA case, through a media outreach and a far-reaching email campaign. As part of this effort, the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) initiated a petition campaign to AXA France Supervisory Board Chairman Claude Bebear, urging the firm to accept a fair settlement that would extend a measure of dignity and recognition to the victims wrongfully denied their property for the past nine decades.

The Armenian American community expects a fair, effective, and orderly claims process be put in place that fully accounts for each policyholder and appropriately disburses funds to European Armenian charities and organizations with a long-standing record of fighting for the rights of the descendants of Armenian Genocide victims.

While the AXA case is significant in that it recognizes the legitimacy of the insurance claims of Armenian Genocide victims, it is by no means related to any claims for the deaths, thefts, bodily harm, and real and personal property confiscations undertaken by the government of Ottoman Turkey and the Republic of Turkey between 1915 and 1923, the liability and responsibilities for which continue to be held by the modern day government of Turkey. Nor does the damages calculation assigned in this case relate in any way to those claims, which continue to remain outstanding.

The ANCA remains committed to ensuring that, in time, the Armenian people will receive the restitution they are owed from all those who unjustly profited, either directly or indirectly, from the Armenian Genocide.


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW, Suite 904, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
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